Republicans introduce spectrum pipeline invoice that favors high-power, licensed use


New invoice requires at the least 1,250 megahertz of spectrum between 1.3-13.2 GHz be auctioned for full-power, licensed business use

It has been barely greater than a 12 months for the reason that public sale authority of the Federal Communications Fee was allowed to lapse, and a brand new, Republican-backed invoice has been launched that will generate some motion on the restoration of that authority and a legislative route for midband spectrum improvement.

Nonetheless, it additionally units up a conflict between those that advocate that the wi-fi trade wants full-power, unique licenses to spectrum and people who again spectrum-sharing approaches.

The one-year anniversary of the lapse of public sale authority got here on March 9. In the present day, two high Republicans—Sen. Ted Cruz, the rating member of the Senate Commerce Committee and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), rating member of the subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband—launched a brand new invoice that they mentioned was the results of a year-long effort to place collectively a spectrum proposal that’s meant to each shield the nation’s nationwide safety pursuits (since federal customers, together with the Division of Protection, are the present customers of many of the airwaves extremely sought by the telecom trade) and obtain the “best worth attainable” for American taxpayers. A 3rd Republican, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, is an unique co-sponsor of the invoice.

“To dominate in next-generation wi-fi applied sciences, keep forward of our adversaries, and advance robust financial development, the U.S. should create a pipeline to increase business entry to mid-band spectrum,” mentioned Sen. Cruz. “The Spectrum Pipeline Act of 2024 meets these objectives whereas selling each shopper and nationwide safety pursuits.”

Thune mentioned: “This laws restores the FCC’s public sale authority, and, in doing so, it ensures that essential mid-band spectrum is made out there for business 5G and superior Wi-Fi use, which is a win-win for American entrepreneurs and customers. I sit up for working with Senator Cruz and my different colleagues to advance this necessary and much-needed laws.”

Blackburn mentioned that the Spectrum Pipeline Act “proposes concrete motion to free crucial mid-band spectrum for business use below outlined timelines.”

The invoice would require the Nationwide Telecommunications and Info Administration (NTIA) to determine at the least 2,500 megahertz of midband spectrum between 1.3 GHz-13.2 GHz that may very well be reallocation for business use (both licensed or unlicensed), and stipulates that at the least half of the recognized spectrum should enable for “full energy business licensed use circumstances.”

Wi-fi trade advocacy group CTIA has been urging the federal authorities to open up further spectrum below the situations that cellular community operators discover most favorable and environment friendly: full-power, exclusive-license use, which has been the normal strategy to business licensing within the U.S. Nonetheless, in an more and more congested spectrum atmosphere with ever extra industries in search of entry to spectrum—and the Division of Protection keen to guard its personal operations throughout varied bands—the Biden administration has taken the place that growing higher sharing applied sciences is the pragmatic strategy.

The White Home launched its personal Nationwide Spectrum Technique late final 12 months, which recognized 5 candidate bands for near-term research and improvement, totaling 2,786 megahertz with an emphasis on midband spectrum and bolstering know-how for dynamic sharing of spectrum. The candidate bands ranged from 3.1 GHz to 37.6 GHz, with all however one in all them below 20 GHz and had been a mixture of federal bands and shared federal/non-federal bands, to be studied not just for terrestrial wi-fi use however for space-based providers and aerial drones. That spectrum technique report made clear each that spectrum is more and more essential to every thing from nationwide safety to financial development and technological management, and consideration on a nationwide degree must be given to not solely terrestrial cellular networks however to area improvement and spectrum for particular makes use of like drones and vehicles—and that spectrum is a finite useful resource for which there’s increasingly more competitors. It additionally declared that “Evolving to a ‘designed to share each time possible’ mindset will speed up environment friendly and efficient use of spectrum for all customers” and mentioned that NTIA would pursue “improvement of a permanent, scalable mechanism to handle shared spectrum entry, together with by means of the event of a typical spectrum administration platform.”

The brand new Republican invoice would renew the FCC’s public sale authority for eight years from the date that the invoice took impact and require the company to public sale at the least 1,250 megahertz of spectrum for full-power business wi-fi use inside six years, together with at the least 600 megahertz inside three years. The invoice additionally requires the FCC to allocate at the least 125 megahertz of further spectrum for unlicensed use, and it removes a limitation in present regulation in order that federal companies could be allowed to purchase new gear utilizing spectrum public sale proceeds.

CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker thanked Cruz and Thune for “pursuing the wanted motion to revive the FCC’s public sale authority and create a powerful pipeline of full-power, licensed spectrum that may help Individuals’ rising wi-fi knowledge use, shield our nationwide safety, and infuse actual competitors within the dwelling broadband market. We sit up for working with Congress on laws that may make sure the wi-fi trade can proceed to construct wi-fi networks that provide aggressive shopper dwelling broadband choices, help cutting-edge innovation, and assist the U.S. lead the world in wi-fi.”

In the meantime, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel marked the one-year anniversary of the lapse of public sale authority by opening a brand new docket merchandise for public enter on how the company would possibly legally use its current regulatory instruments and authority to offer entry to its stock of beforehand licensed however at the moment unassigned spectrum.

“In gentle of the fact the company has confronted for nearly a 12 months, we at the moment are compelled to ask what we are able to do with our present unassigned spectrum to be able to preserve innovation transferring forward in a worldwide marketplace for wi-fi that’s not slowing down,” Rosenworcel mentioned in an announcement. “I stay hopeful that the FCC’s public sale authority will probably be restored shortly in order that this necessary program is as soon as once more capable of produce outcomes for customers and the financial system. The company stands able to work with lawmakers to make sure we don’t discover ourselves in the identical place subsequent 12 months.”


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